One quarter of UK residents “very likely” to buy a property with solar panels on its roof

The Eco Experts
Three homes in the UK with solar panels on their roofs.

Solar panels are increasing in popularity each year, with 2021 seeing more installations than the previous five years combined.

And with one quarter of UK residents now “very likely” to buy a property with solar panels on its roof, we might finally be moving past the stigma that solar panels are ugly.

These findings came from a survey of 1,150 UK residents conducted by The Eco Experts as part of our annual National Home Energy Survey, which was released at the start of this month. Want to see how the rest of the survey went? Check out the report to find out more.

How many UK residents want a property with solar panels?

Out of the 1,150 UK residents who completed the survey, just 37 said they’d be “very unlikely” to purchase a property with solar panels. Only a further 38 fell into the “unlikely” category, with the overwhelming majority of respondents selecting either “very likely”, “likely”, or “neither likely nor unlikely”.

65% of respondents said they’d be either “very likely” or “likely” to purchase a property with solar panels.

Seeing so many people react positively to solar panels on a property is definitely encouraging. As the survey also proved, energy efficiency in properties is becoming increasingly important to home buyers, and solar panels are perfectly poised to help with this.

See below for a chart showing the breakdown of results.

Breakdown by generation

The survey revealed something many probably wouldn’t expect – Millennials (26–41) came second to last in “very likely” votes, with the Silent Generation the only generation to poll lower in this category.

Here’s a breakdown of how each generation responded:

 

Likelihood to purchase a property with solar panels on roof by generation
GenerationVery likelyLikelyNeither likely nor unlikelyUnlikelyVery unlikely
Gen Z (21–24)34%43%16%6%1%
Millennials (25–40)24%42%30%3%1%
Gen X (41–56)27%40%25%4%4%
Boomers (57–75)31%27%30%3%9%
Silent Generation (76–79)0%50%40%0%10%

 

Boomers (57–75) coming second is definitely an interesting result, as they're typically associated with reluctance towards solar panels, often citing the supposed aesthetic impact that panels have on homes as a big detractor. Many often wonder whether solar panels are too ugly for their neighbourhood.

Though that perception might also explain why boomers had the second highest percentage of “very unlikely” responses. Quite the split indeed!

Gen Z (21–24) having the highest overall percentage of “very likely” responses shouldn't come as a surprise – other responses throughout the survey point to this generation being very eco-conscious.

Are solar panels becoming more popular?

Solar panel sales are increasing year-on-year – they’ve gone from generating just 1 megawatt of the UK’s electricity in 2008 to an astonishing 11,730 megawatts in 2020.

Sales of solar panels in 2021 were higher than in the previous five years combined. In the UK government’s 2020 report on solar panel costs, it was revealed that around 970,000 UK homes have solar panels.

This amounts to 3.3% of the UK’s total housing, so whilst it’s great to see solar panels increase in popularity, more needs to be done to help people adopt the technology.

Part of the reason behind the surge in solar panel ownership since 2010 was the Feed-in Tariff scheme. This scheme paid solar panel owners for any kWh (kilowatt hours) of electricity they fed back into the Grid. So the actual return on investment for solar panels was much better than it currently is (the scheme ended in April 2019).

Since then, solar panel sales have continued to rise, but at a noticeably slower rate. Take a look at the chart below for context:

Implications for the housing market

In times gone by, solar panels were almost universally seen as an eyesore, something that most people would prefer didn’t adorn their roof. Many people still have this opinion, and even though some have softened to the idea, solar panels are still a contentious issue for the ‘not-in-my-backward’ types.

Now, the landscape is changing and more people are not only recognising the importance of green energy, but are shifting towards wanting solar panels as a default for their new home.

The question of whether or not solar panels add value to a home has pretty much been put to rest also. A series of recent studies showed that adding solar panels to a home could actually increase its value by 4.1%.

That’s the equivalent of adding around £8,000 to a property’s value. When you consider that a typical 3.5 kilowatt solar panel system costs £4,800, adding panels to a property you want to sell is a no-brainer.

What’s more, from 2021 all new build homes in the UK will be expected to achieve a 31% reduction in emissions (compared to homes built in 2006), further strengthening the case for solar panel systems as standard.

But is this actually happening? According to an estimate by Solar Energy UK, only around 10% of new homes built since 2010 have solar panels installed. Scotland was an entirely different story – between 80-90% of new homes there are being built with solar panels.

Wales is a similar story to England, even though its policy dictates that homes must produce 37% fewer emissions than homes built in 2006. The issue with England and Wales seems to be that homebuilders can achieve these emission reductions through efficient gas boilers, and modest improvements in insulation.

Why is there such a discrepancy between Scotland, England and Wales? You need only look at the policies. Since 2015, all new builds in Scotland have been required to achieve a 45% reduction in emissions compared to 2006 properties. So the need for solar panels has become even greater, as homebuilders simply cannot achieve this with efficient boilers and good insulation alone.

Summary

Seeing so many people react positively to the idea of purchasing a property with solar panels is great news. Hopefully, when The Eco Experts releases its next annual National Home Energy Survey in 2023, there’ll be an even higher percentage of people wanting to buy properties with solar panels.

The problem however, is that the UK government isn’t doing enough to ensure new builds come with solar panels as standard. Scotland might be on the right track, but there needs to be a UK-wide approach if we are to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Right now, most experts agree that the UK’s homes are unfit for the challenge of climate change. Clearly, drastic steps need to be taken to increase the amount of homes being built with solar panels. The rest of the UK could start by matching Scotland’s policy of ensuring all new builds emit 45% less than properties built in 2006.

To get the full data for the survey, please email .

Tom Gill Writer

Tom is a big fan of all things eco and has a passionate interest in how technology and localised projects can work together to make the world greener.

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